Oscar Pistorius: limited space for hearing

There was not enough space for all accredited media to fit into the courtroom where murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius was scheduled to appear this morning.

Just before 7am, court officials told reporters there were 90 names on the media accreditation list, but the courtroom could only hold 60 people.

The number of news crews swelled as the sun rose outside the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court where Pistorius was set to appear for a pretrial hearing.

Security guards called out reporters’ names from the list before letting them into the building from the main entrance in Francis Baard Street.

Inside court, Pistorius’ brother Carl and sister Aimee, wearing a black jacket and scarf, were already waiting.

From 5am, local and international media vehicles occupied parking spots around the court.

More than 12 outside broadcast vehicles had parked along Sophie de Bruyn Street (formerly Schubart) near the court soon after.

Homeless people who sleep outside the court and passers-by were surprised at the number of journalists and technical crews milling at the court entrance.

“Please tell me what is going to happen here?” one curious vagrant inquired.

The justice and constitutional-development department said in a statement last week that the Pistorius matter would be postponed unopposed today.

Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder after his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in his Pretoria home on February 14.

During a bail hearing in February, Pistorius’ defence read out a statement in which he said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

He was released on bail on February 22, but under conditions which he later challenged in the high court in Pretoria. Several of the conditions were relaxed, including bans on international travel and alcohol consumption.

On Sunday night, Pistorius’ uncle Arnold Pistorius said a leaked photograph, purportedly showing the scene where Steenkamp was shot dead, had “shaken” the family.

The picture was posted on the SkyNews website on Friday.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Phuti Setati said on Friday police could not comment on the photograph because they did not know how it came to be in SkyNews’ possession.

“We don’t want to be distracted by these deliberate tactics. All that we want to do is secure a conviction, so we are working throughout and investigating professionally,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pistorius’ manager said in an interview yesterday that the paralympian suffers from serious psychological problems.

“Oscar sleeps poorly. He eats poorly. There are days when he’s okay but other days it’s terrible,” Peet van Zyl told the German weekly Der Spiegel.

“When you talk to him, of course he listens, but I don’t reach him. He’s not there. He cries a lot,” said Van Zyl.

“He sees a psychologist two or three times a week,” said Van Zyl. “She is strict with him. When I see him after a session, he always seems completely gutted.”

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